The Robert Graves Review


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Advice to Children

Joseph Thomas

Children, if you dare to think

Of the rareness, muchness

Fewness of this precious only

Endless world in which you say

You live, you think of things like this:

Gym showers full of boys and girls

Snapping towels, red welts on rears,

Refracted sun and polished glass,  

And squirming ants consumed by flame,

The roll of dice (we call it craps)

And the give of cash held tight in

Hand (winnings won through guile and cheat),

And acrid smoke from stolen fags,

And ‘gateway drugs’ swinging wide

Straight on through to the other side.

Such treasures wait in small, zip locked

Bags, plastic keys to worlds unspied:

Take them, Children, make them your own!

For who dares undo the parcel

Finds themselves at once outside it:

Snapping towels and pinching rears

Burning ants and smoking smokes

Shooting craps and rolling joints

And buying bags of skag from friends

Instead of sitting alone and grim

With unwrapped parcels about your bed.

And if only then you should dare to think

Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,

Greatness of this endless only

Precious world in which you say

You live – it will be too late.

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